DC Comics has had multiple characters named Starfire. Here we’ll discuss the swordswoman who appeared in 1976 in her own book.
Starfire is one of the DC Implosion characters, an era I’m fond of. For a full list, you can of course click on the “DC Implosion” tag. That’s what tags are for, right ?
Anyway, Starfire was a swashbuckling action heroine in a post-apocalyptic future of mysterious science and shadow magic.
This profile will include all the information about this setting, especially since it connects with David Michelinie’s Fifteen Worlds cosmology.
There are S P O I L E R S therein. But on the other hand it was 35+ years ago and I don’t think it was ever reprinted.
Covering *everything* means a bunch of material, so we’ve split things into shorter articles.
Siren of swords and science !
Starfire’s world boasted great cities and advanced technology. Including antigravity, teleportation and energy weapons, though the computer workstations look oddly like 1970s ones.
The local humans were long-lived, presumably through scientific enhancements. From what we can piece together Starfire’s mentor was at least 400 years old, though he looked in his late 30s. Some other humans such as Lady Djinn and Thump were about as old.
Yet the underground war priests, the enslaved workers, etc. of Starfire’s time had more normal lifespans. Perhaps the lifespan is achieved through a treatment that must be maintained.
War, uh, what is it good for
Two major civilisations feuded, locked in an endless war and arms race.
The war lasted so long that it became sacred. Religious orders took charge of it, with men of the cloth becoming “war priests”. This clergy mastered both combat and tactics, and conserved scientific and occult knowledge.
Eventually, one side’s priests managed to summon reinforcements. These were ferocious aliens called the Mygorg. It was hoped that those allies would help break the seemingly eternal tie.
Howbeit the other side eventually summoned the otherdimensionalLocated in another reality opponents of the Mygorg – the Yorgs.
I’m not saying it was aliens, but…
While they were bitter enemies, both the Mygorg and the Yorgs soon realised they could overpower the Humans. They overthrew their respective summoners, and all Humans were soon reduced to slavery. They now served and fought at the whims of their alien masters.
Starfire’s area is clearly dominated by the Mygorgs. Perhaps the Mygorgs and Yorgs each dominate the former territory of the Human nation that originally summoned them.
Or perhaps things are more complicated. Yorg troops stated that they now controlled half of Starfire’s world, but this may have been a reference to night vs. day rather than a geographical expanse.
Mygorgs do not seem superhuman. They’re large and strong and good soldiers, but nothing crushing. How they could be such a military power in the context of the Humans’ war is unrevealed.
By Starfire’s time, the Mygorg had little visible technology. They fought in melee, preferred javelins for making ranged attacks, rode animal mounts, camped in simple tents, etc.. They did have access to some exotic monsters from their home dimension, though.
It is possible that monsters that Starfire encountered in the wilds were originally from the Mygorg’s dimension. Particularly the various sorts of giant lizards.
The Mygorgs also preferred a pastoralHere in the sense of idealized rural lifestyles life. Starfire’s area was vast stretches of wilderness punctuated by small, isolated settlements with medieval-style fortifications.
Something fitting and that strongly says 1976/1977…
Mmm, let’s go with the obvious. Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way, from one of the 1970’s landmark rock albums — Rumours.
Here I’ll use the live version from the 1997 The Dance tour. The voices were starting to weaken, but their work to make their Great Hoary Hippie Folk Rock Classics sound punchy and modern was right on target.
A woman rebel in an enslaved world !
Though Starfire’s world is chiefly presented as a scientific one — to differentiate it from a typical fantasy world — magic does exist and play a role.
Starfire’s companion Dagan called it “counter-science”. And though the war priests of old knew about it, it seems to have been less intensively used than science and engineering.
The big exception, of course, was the summoning of the Mygorgs and Yorgs. Both came from “a nether void”. Which in context of David Michelinie’s other works of that period presumably means a chaos dimension.
Mygorgs did not seem to use magic much, whereas Yorgs seem to be inherently magical.
Since they despise each other, it is possible that Mygorgs are law creatures and Yorgs chaos creatures.
The Yorg-held territories on Starfire’s world might be more overtly magical. But during her adventures on Mygorg turf Starfire only ever encountered one spellcaster (and some Yorgs).
It is thus difficult to draw conclusions about how magic works on this world.
The one spellcaster Starfire met was called Lady Djinn. She could cast spells with the standard comic book visuals (à la Doctor Strange). She was observed performing the following :
- Paralysing eldritch bolts. Though they didn’t work on Thump until she grabbed his metallic amulet and cast her spell through it.
- An orange telekinetic aura that could move heavy objects (namely, a paralysed Thump).
- Spells that mutated Thump’s appearance, increased his Physical Attributes and caused amnesia. Still, these enchantments couldn’t fully make him forget. In DC Heroes RPG terms these are Mutation, Hypnosis and others.
- Spells of technical maintenance, sensing dysfunctional computer hardware and magically fixing it. These spells were fire-and-forget (they’d keep running even without Djinn’s supervision).
However, performing sorcery with computer hardware was considered unnatural. Left unsupervised, this created a field of aberrant force that drew the attention of Yorgs within minutes. They could zero in on it from a great distance then teleport within the field.
Both the Yorgs and Lady Djinn used cantripsIn D&D parlance, a casual spell that does something minor allowing them to open or close automated doors and windows with but a gesture. There seems to be some sort of magical interface to allow for this, built into some installations.
This is presumably a Yorg trick, since there seems to be a link between the Yorgs and the unnatural results of merging science and sorcery.
The story has chronological impossibilities, mostly having to do how long ago the invasion took place. These seem to be the consequence of a change in writers. This entry :
- Goes with four centuries since the invasion (as per Starfire #8).
- Ignores small issues (such as the date of the death of Kyrse’s mother).
- Resolves most chronological incoherence by assuming that antebellumLatin for “before the war” humans were very long-lived.
Only a young woman’s sword and her courage will challenge the inhuman hordes who would enslave her people !
Starfire and other stories written by David Michelinie during the DC Explosion feature an eternal war between war and chaos. It was clearly inspired by classic Michael Moorcock novels.
In that context, Starfire is presumably a champion of law and the aliens champions of chaos. But the cancellation of Starfire, Claw the Unconquered and Star Hunters meant that the shared background was never explained.
Starfire is stated to be one of “the Champions of the Sornaii”. Which we tentatively assume means the divinities of Law.
Starfire, champion of the Sornaii
We can imagine that Starfire exists in the far future of the world of Claw. It works fine and is OccamA logic rule about favouring the explanation involving the fewest entities-legal.
Amusingly, the Starfire run references the Marvel Universe — a Mygorg swears by the Moons of Munnopor, a mystical place often referred to in the pages of Doctor Strange — but never the DCU.
Perhaps Mygorgs came from Reality-616The main Marvel Comics version of Earth ? The Fifteen Worlds are linked to Conan’s time in the Marvel Universe, so it’s credible.
The Fifteen Planets ? Some geeky hypotheses
Starfire never situates its setting. But Who’s Who in the DC Universe lists Starfire as operating on “an unnamed planet in another star system”.
This can be mined for possibilities – beyond those covered in our main Fifteen Worlds discussion.
If we can be forgiven this flight of fancy, this may mean that the Fifteen Worlds are actually a system of eight habitable planets. Perhaps it was shaped through paranormal intervention like the Vega system.
In this context, this corner of space has thin dimensional barriers. The entire solar system is one AP of Dimensional Distance away from a seven-planets solar system in another universe. Perhaps this is a property of the local star(s) that engenders this.
Could this hypothetical star be a first, failed attempt at assembling the Starheart ?
In this view, rather than encompass multiple universes as a grand cosmology, the Fifteen Worlds could be a more local matter within the DC Universe.
In this take, the recurrent theme of the invasion from beyond becomes a single invasion by an alliance of alien races.
Or perhaps the invaders are just the Mygorgs and the Yorgs, with the Yorgs assaulting some of the world through conjured demons rather than as themselves. Dgrth and Satan (from Stalker and Beowulf respectively) are reinterpreted as powerful Yorgs, different from the scout subspecies seen in Starfire.
The dimensional properties of the star(s) of this system make it easy to use magic to move to anyplace strongly bathed in their light, teleporting from planet to planet as easily as from one kingdom to the next.
The same is even truer on the “other side” of the dimensional divide, where negative versions of the star(s) are more powerful.
Gee, what fun is to be had with the Fifteen Worlds !
The next part covers Starfire herself.
DC Heroes RPG
The aliens on Starfire’s world could not be observed in detail. But here are the known facts.
Starfire has called the Mygorgs and Yorgs “demons” and “death-worshippers”. But it is impossible to say whether it was vituperationA bitter and abusive outburst or a statement of fact.
DCH About Growth: 01, DEX 03 STR 04 BODY 03 and Weaponry (Melee, Thrown): 04 in DCH terms.
M&M About STR 2 STA 2, a +3 unarmed attack bonus and a +5 total attack bonus with their melee weapon.
One of their key advantages are large reptiles, who have special powers that can reach 9-10 APs (8 or 9 Ranks in DCA). Examples include wingless dragons with a cold breathe weapon, pterodactyls with eyebeams, giant half-humanoid lizard fighters, etc..
Presumably the Mygorgs have other assets if they outgunned the humans. But nothing was ever demonstrated. Perhaps they have an invincible Dune-style force field technology protecting against high-tech weapons and forcing high-tech troops to go mano-a-mano against them.
Or perhaps they have access to reptilian monsters that are way more powerful than the ones seen in Starfire.
One also gets the impression that the Mygorgs who came to Starfire’s world were excellent fighters, but their idle enslaved-workers-driving descendants were much weaker.
The Yorgs are closer to being shadow demons – they look a bit like the Shadow-Thief. They stated that they were the opposite pole of life. They have a smoke-like quality, and seem able to teleport into any area with deep shadows or aberrant magical energy.
DCH About DEX 03 STR 03 BODY 03, Dispersal: 03, Fluid form: 03, Teleportation: 09 (Limited as per above), Ultra-vision: 04.
Their preferred attack is to engulf a victim in shadows (Magic blast: 07, No Range – Starfire could overcome it though she was surprised and weakened). Several panels show them shooting red eyebeams. They could also use the magic interfaces described in the next section.
Yorgs apparently cannot enter an area bathed in sunlight. Light-based weaponry (such as lasers) will also completely ignore their Dispersal and Fluid form. When a Yorg is exposed to such light — or maybe when he dies — the cloak of shadows around his body disperses, leaving a naked purple humanoid.
M&M About STR 1 STA 2, a +3 unarmed bonus, Senses 2 (Darkvision), Insubstantial 1, Protection 9 and Enhanced Fortitude 7. They can engulf a person with a no-range Affliction 7 attack (something like dazed/exhausted/incapacitated). Their Protection and Enhanced Fortitude have a Quirk making them not apply against Bright Light, Laser and closely-related descriptors.
Source of Character: Starfire #1-8 (1976) (probably set in the DC Universe). The original writer was David Michelinie, followed by Elliot S! Maggin and finally Steve Englehart. Not bad, uh ? It was an era where DC had some difficulty letting a writer work on a book more than 4-5 issues.
Helper(s): Darci, Frank Murdock.
Writeup revised and expanded on the 11th of May, 2011.